Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Alison Hein.
Oh no! I cannot believe I forgot to do a Valentine’s Day post!
Well, as they say, better late than never, so here’s a sweet recipe you can either save until next year or surprise your beloved with an unexpected, heartwarming anytime breakfast in bed.
These little pies are deliciously spiced with an amalgam of exotic flavors, and tuck neatly into a small hand for nibbling on the go. If you like, use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart in each half-moon. Then gently lay the little heart back over the filling before baking.
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/3 cup butter
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sugar, plus an additional 1 teaspoon for topping
½ teaspoon flour
¼ teaspoon cloves
A dash each of cardamom, ginger, mace and nutmeg
1 egg white, lightly beaten
To make crust, sift together flour and salt. Remove half of the flour mixture and add to a separate small bowl. Add water to flour mixture and stir to make a paste. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture, using a pastry cutter or two forks. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth, uniform dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Gently roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll dough to form an approximate 12×12-inch shape. Cut 3 to 4 6-inch circles from the dough, using a large cookie cutter, a tin coffee can, or cutting around a small plate. If possible, re-roll any leftover dough to form an additional 6-inch circle. Set circles aside until ready to use.
To make filling, peel and finely dice apples. Add to a large bowl and stir in cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of sugar, flour, cardamom ginger, mace and nutmeg. Place about 1½ teaspoons of filling on the lower half of each circle, leaving enough room to crimp dough ends together. Fold top half of dough circle over filling to create a moon shape. Crimp edges together with the tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining dough. Poke a few holes in the top of the pie for venting.
Place pies on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Makes 6 to 8 hand pies.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
As a fancy librarian whose job used to entail finding the hottest up-and-coming books, I’d like to share with you something I’m almost sure you’ve never heard of. From an obscure debut author somewhere in England comes this charming new book about a young wizard named Harry Potter.
Of course, unless you are completely out of touch, you’ve heard of this book, possibly read it, possibly watched the movies. Honestly, you could watch the first movie and miss nothing from the book. The reason I’m discussing this book today is because last night my boy and I finished reading the first volume. He’d already seen the movie a billion times, which takes some of the fun out of it, but he’d never read the book. It’s still a pretty fun story. I have not read the series since it first came out, so it was fun to revisit. The boy is a devoted fan. Unfortunately after the first few books, it starts to get awfully dark and I’m not entirely sure he’s ready for the later ones. Also, after the first few books, it starts to get awfully wordy and I’m not sure I can read all that without destroying my vocal chords.
It’s interesting to revisit this after watching the movie so many times with the kid. The dialog in many parts is almost word for word taken from the book. It makes picking voices for the characters a cinch! It’s fun to have been able to share this with my son. Already preparing to read him the next volume. It’s big commitment, this series, but I’m sure we’ll be grateful when I finish the final volume in about eleven years!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
We don’t have a TV in the bedroom. We just have the one, in the front room. But that doesn’t stop us from snuggling up on the couch under a bunch of blankets on Saturday mornings for cartoons. And now, our Saturday ritual is so much better, and nostalgic, thanks to the release of the complete Pee-wee’s Playhouse series on Netflix! Also on Blu-ray if that’s how you roll. I was the perfect age to watch this when I was a kid, if a little bit too old towards the end.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse is a joyful half hour full of talking animals and furniture, refrigerator drama, surprising celebrities, and the occasional morality lesson. Phil Hartman (rest his soul) and Laurence Fishburne were regulars. My son was an instant fan. He is always asking me who my favorite character is. That’s like choosing my favorite Chinese dish! I love most of them. But Terry (Pterry?) I guess is preferable to Chairry or Globey. It’s a wonderful new world that has opened up to my kid and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I had forgotten how utterly weird and silly the show is. I’d also forgotten about the little moral lessons, like when Randy tries to get Pee-wee to smoke. All in all, it’s the goofiest, most harmless show. Except for that intro song. That can hurt after hearing it a few times! 🙂
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Beds come in a variety of heights, but most fall in the range of 18-25 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress. Formal, more traditional beds tend be higher while antique beds can come as high as 36 inches, and perhaps a little higher once you add bedding.
You can decide on the height that works for you, and that’s often based on design style, comfort, ease of getting in and out of the bed, etc. You also might think about how much storage you need under your bed, and this will help determine the bed you choose, so you’re sure to make the most out of that space between the bottom of the box spring and the floor.
More and more mattresses run thicker today, especially with pillow top options, so the standard heights of beds have increased over the years. Many people like that soft cocoon-like feeling they get from a pillow-top mattress. One option with a thicker mattress is to purchase a platform bed, which sits closer to the floor; hence you will get a lower bed. Bear in mind, you won’t require a box spring with a platform bed.
Elderly folks will probably feel more at ease with a bed height that’s more in the 24-inch range –– since they’ll be able to get in and out easier –– and should aim for a design in which their feet touch the floor when sitting on the bed. Lower beds are usually easier for children to crawl in and out of, once they graduate from their crib.
Whatever bed frame and mattress you choose, consider the overall height and what will feel most natural for you when you’re at rest, sitting, and getting in and out of bed.
Post by Alison Hein.
Our garden is very shady and rocky, with just enough light and soil to grow a few herbs. Fortunately, lush green parsley, silvery thyme, and sprightly rosemary are a weedy bunch at heart, demanding little more than a touch of sun and a few drops of water to flourish.
During the winter months, I have been forced to rely on supermarket purchases to dress up my dishes with greenery. Until this year, that is. My son and daughter-in-law gifted me with the most adorable (and highly effective) indoor grow garden. It requires even less care than my outdoor plants, and grows at a remarkable rate with 16 hours of light a day. Such a perfect gift for a cook and food blogger! A handful of this, a sprig of that – photos (and dishes) are markedly enhanced.
So, I decided to create a simple breakfast to showcase my lovely stash. A simple golden omelet makes the perfect palette for my fine greenery. And, rolled up crêpe-like, it also makes the perfect presentation. I used an equal mix of fresh parsley, basil, cilantro and chives in my whipped cream cheese base, but feel free to experiment with the herbs of your choosing for a breakfast in bed filled with garden greenery – smack dab in the middle of February! J
P.S. The herbed cheese also makes a wonderful filling for earthy buckwheat crêpes, or spread on cooked artichoke bottoms for a healthy nosh.
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped, mixed herbs (try equal portions of parsley, basil, cilantro and chives), plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add cream cheese and herbs to small bowl and mix together gently. Set aside until ready to use.
Melt butter in small, heavy pan over medium heat. Break eggs into small bowl, add milk, and whisk until thick and smooth. Pour egg mixture into heated pan all at once and swirl to evenly cover the pan. Reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, occasionally pushing eggs back around the edges to allow uncooked portion to flow through. Alternatively, reduce heat to simmer, cover pan and continue to cook until set. Cook until eggs are firm and set in one flat round.
Slide egg round from pan onto work surface or plate. Spread herbed cheese on top of cooked egg. Season with salt and pepper. Roll up omelet and top with additional fresh herbs, if you like. Serve immediately.
Makes 1 serving.